On this Thanksgiving, I join so many who have written and spoken their thoughts for what and who they are thankful. I have much to be thankful for, so much so that I’m almost embarrassed by it all. Almost. To be embarrassed, to me, seems to be a first-world problem and actually is dismissive of those who don’t have what they need to live well.
There is a lot of disagreement in our country (and our world) about what the response to the refugee “situation” should be. I land firmly on the side that we must take care of the refugees, we must bring them in to our cities and offer them relief and home and care. A common reaction to this side is “we don’t take care of our own, why should we bring in the stranger?” Good question – and I agree, we often don’t take care of our own. I am a mental health professional and I can assure you that I am fully aware of this – funding for mental health gets cut every year in cities, counties and states. Every year there are fewer and fewer services available, fewer and fewer professionals able to provide help that is desperately needed.
Yet – yet – we don’t change. We keep building malls filled with stores that are filled with stuff we don’t need. Stuff that, if not kept in check, can become a very real problem for people to live safely in their homes. I believe our priorities have gotten skewed – we put things above people, we put accumulating stuff ahead of fostering relationships. We must change – and please understand, I am not pointing fingers outside of myself – I am pointing the finger at me, too.
I don’t believe the question is whether we should help refugees or help Americans in need. I don’t see why we can’t do both. We have the resources. I believe the question is this: do we have the will to change our perspective on stuff? Will we change what we prioritize? Will we open our hearts to people and close our wallets to things?
I may not be a refugee today – I may not be homeless today – I may not be in need of mental health services that I can’t get today – but I could be.